US (CT): Retired teacher grows hydroponic farms in Hartford to combat food insecurity

On a sunny, windy day in the Blue Hills neighborhood of Hartford, Luverne Mott looks over her garden from her back porch. Her flowers aren’t in bloom, but her hydroponic farms are sprouting. “This is my second year,” said Mott, nodding at the pipes and scaffolds in her yard. “So we’ve expanded.”

Mott is a retired teacher who worked in Connecticut public schools for 34 years. She was a culinary arts teacher, primarily teaching high school home economics. She’s passionate about food, where it comes from, how it’s grown, and how to eat healthy.

“I was part of the City of Hartford Food Policy Commission,” said Mott. “We were trying to prevent problems with food issues… being familiar with that stuff, this struck my interest.”

When Mott retired several years ago after a hip injury, she was looking for another way to do what she loved. She heard about a local startup nonprofit called Levo International. It provides hydroponics equipment, training, and plants to people in and around Hartford to grow food in their backyards or in community farming spaces. “It’s my way of giving back to the community,” said Mott. “We service the different food banks, and that provides the opportunity to have more vegetables in the community.”

Mott has a pair of hydroponic farms in her backyard. The farms use solar-powered pumps to circulate fertilized water through the roots of her 40 tomato and pepper plants. The tomatoes are the little yellow cherry variety you use in salads.


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